Monday, January 25, 2010

Diary June 2009 - New Front Garden

When we moved into our house over 20 years ago, I asked a (prestigious) local landscape company to draw up a front yard plan for me. I remember the design itself seemed over-priced ($250 in 1988!) but to install their plan was going to cost $13,000 – how outrageously expensive, I thought!! (Actually foolish me entertained the idea for about a day until my practical husband squashed it!)
I proceeded to design the front myself, using some of their principles and ideas.
Well, over the years I got bored with the look and it seemed silly to constantly cut an oval area of grass near the front window, that often looked ratty and had bare patches.
I had read wonderful books like Liz Primeau’s “Front Yard Gardens: growing more than grass” and always longed for all plants in the front and no grass at all.
Well, my husband and I compromised on the “no grass at all” – we agreed to remove the sod from the oval area and I designed a new garden, whose focal point would be flagstones placed in a circle with a large urn on the centre stone.
If you’ve ever removed sod, you know it’s back-breaking work so I hired a landscaping company to do that for me. My stay-at-home neighbour reported that 2 young men came, spent several hours digging up the front using shovels, spreading topsoil, adding flagstones and mulching the whole area in a single afternoon! Ah! To be young!!

As for plants, here were my ideas:
1. Shrubs to encircle the area at the back (I chose Euonymus and short hydrangea)

2. Then hostas and other perennials (mauve daylilies, Lady’s mantle, coral bells) mirrored on each side
3. Blue Oat grass beside some accent rocks
4. Creeping thyme between the flagstones
5. Bright pink or red annuals in the front
6. Allow groundcover on either side (periwinkle, sweet woodruff) to eventually creep in and eliminate the need for the annuals.
Everything seemed a bit sparse at first but already by mid-summer, plants started plumping up and filling in. The creeping thyme filled in too much! I wasn’t going to let rampant groundcover obscure my gorgeous flagstones. I ripped sections of that out in the fall.
The impatiens really filled in – we had a lot of rain last summer, and that probably helped.

Anyway – I’m thrilled with the look! This year (Year 2) the Lady’s’ Mantle (Alchemilla mollis) and the Blue Oat grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) have doubled in size, the hosta are thriving and the thyme did not re-appear where I had removed it.
My annuals this year are red impatiens and red tuberous begonias. The urn is a bit of a mish-mash but should look OK when it fills in.
Anyway – sometimes it’s a lot of fun to copy ideas from books to create a whole new look!